BU-107: Comparison Table of Secondary Batteries

Select between maximum runtime, long service life, small size and low cost.

Rechargeable batteries play an important role in our lives and many daily chores would be unthinkable without the ability to recharge an empty battery. As the battery improves, an increasing number of devices are fitted with rechargeable batteries. The points of interest are good runtimes, economical price, long life, large loading capabilities, safe operation, ease of storage and disposal.

The most common rechargeable batteries are Lead acid, NiCd, NiMH and Li-ion.

Battery research gravitates towards lead- and lithium-based batteries. AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) is a major battery type in the lead acid family and lead acid with carbon additives are making progress by allowing faster charge and increasing cycle life. (See BU-202: New Lead Acid Systems). Lead acid is estimated to grow in market share, but the bulk of battery growth is with Li-ion. (See BU-204: How do Lithium Batteries Work?

Table 1 compares the characteristics of the four commonly used rechargeable battery systems showing average performance ratings at time of publication. Li-ion is divided into many different types, each is described in more detail in BU-205: Types of Lithium-ion. The batteries are so named by their active materials that in most cases are the cathode. The traditional Li-ion systems are cobalt, manganese and phosphate.

Missing in the list is the popular lithium-ion-polymer. This battery gets its name from the unique separator and electrolyte system that energizes the battery. Once fully developed and refined, the polymer architecture has a large potential.

Also missing is the rechargeable lithium-metal. This battery is subject to more development in controlling dendrite growth, which can compromise safety. Once resolved, Li-metal has the prospect of becoming an alternative battery choice with extraordinary high specific energy and good specific power. Other promising lithium-based batteries are making advancements, albeit very incremental. These are described under BU-211: Alternative Battery Systems and BU-212: Experimental Rechargeable Batteries.

Unique packaging has made Li-ion available and affordable. The most common format is the 18650, a cell that measures 18mm in diameter and is 65mm long. This format offers the largest variety, highest specific energy, lowest cost per Wh and perhaps also provides the most reliable service. Over 2.5 billion 18650 cells have been produced in 2013. (See BU-301: A look at Old and New Battery Packaging.)

Three unique categories of Li-ion have emerged, each addressing different applications. Available in 18650 (and other formats) these categories are the Energy Cell energy with high capacity, the Power Cell with high loading capabilities and the Hybrid Cells that satisfies both requirements at compromised performance levels. Other cells are made for extended temperature range and extremely long cycle counts.

Comparison of Secondary Batteries Chart

Table 1: Characteristics of commonly used rechargeable batteries. The figures are based on average ratings of commercial batteries at time of publication. Specialty batteries with above-average ratings are excluded.

  1. Combining cobalt, nickel, manganese and aluminum raises energy density up to 250Wh/kg.
  2. Cycle life is based on the depth of discharge (DoD). Shallow DoD prolongs cycle life.
  3. Cycle life is based on battery receiving regular maintenance to prevent memory.
  4. Ultra-fast charge batteries are specially made (See BU-401a: Fast and Ultra-fast Chargers)
  5. Self-discharge is highest immediately after charge. NiCd loses 10% in the first 24 hours, then declines to 10% every 30 days. High temperature and age increase self-discharge.
  6. 1.25V is traditional; 1.20V is more commonly. (See BU-303: Confusion with Voltages).
  7. Manufacturers may rate voltage higher because of low internal resistance (marketing).
  8. Capable of high current pulses; needs time to recuperate.
  9. Do not charge Li-ion below freezing. See BU-410: Charging at High and Low Temperatures.
  10. Maintenance may be in the form of equalizing or topping charge to prevent sulfation.
  11. Protection circuit cuts off below about 2.20V and above 4.30V on most Li-ion; different voltage settings apply for lithium-iron-phosphate.
  12. Li-ion may have lower cost-per-cycle than lead acid.

Last updated 2015-08-14


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On March 24, 2011 at 8:32am
Le Van Nam wrote:

I need to know the temperature at which lead is broken to become powder. Can you help me? Thank you very much.

On November 2, 2011 at 7:15pm
betterpower battery wrote:

I learned much.

On December 19, 2011 at 12:17pm
Tom Marshall wrote:

I was reading elsewhere about Lithium Iron (sic) Phosphate (or LiFePO4) batteries becoming the ideal replacement for traditional 12V deep cell lead acid batteries commonly used for camping purposes to power small compressor fridges and the like, and in recreational vehicles as a power source when stationary where no mains power is available. Have you more information on these?

On April 27, 2012 at 1:02am
Hossein wrote:

thanks a lot.

On June 13, 2012 at 3:11pm
battery guy wrote:

Classifying Li-ion as “maintenance not required” seems to be misunderstood outside the battery industry.  Working in the battery industry for the past 5 years I have found that it’s a common misconception of battery users that a Li-ion battery can sit on a shelf or installed in a device for nearly indefinite periods of time without recharging (of course not true of any chemistry).  If a lithium battery is left to self discharge to 0% SOC and remains in storage allowing the protection circuit to further deplete the cells, this often results in a damaged or unusable battery (unhappy customer).

This site is excellent! Keep it up.

On September 26, 2012 at 6:29am
Dr wrote:

Please tell me if Li Ion battery has what is called “memory effect” which means it has to be fully discharged before charging again?In other words,can it be charged as often as we want,like in between the usage so that battery charge does not go off during the use of the equipment? PLEASE MAIL TO   drsajeevk@gmail.com
Dr.Sajeev Kumar

On January 15, 2013 at 7:35pm
roy wrote:

Following rows if added shall make the table great:
-Gases produced, if any
-Weight to Capacity ratio

On March 23, 2013 at 1:29am
bill mc allister wrote:

If I connected multiple super capacitors to replace a 12 volt car battery in sequence,  could I achieve enough power to start my engine, if so how many and what size capacitor. Please email any info that can assist me to billyjoe68@live.ca thank you so much for this web page.

On May 2, 2013 at 2:53pm
Mads wrote:

The description ir pretty good. I think it would be really worth to add a little bit of today’s so popular lithium-polymer (LiPo) and mention also a chemistries like lithium-sulphur (LiS) and lithium-air as well.

On May 30, 2013 at 1:10pm
Don wrote:

Note in reading this page I have noticed that there seems to be a error in your temperature values in Table 1 - Discharge temperature, Column 1 is -20°C to 50°C and -4°F to ?°F (note ? mark for missing data). Column 2 is -20 to 65°C and -4 to 49°F, column 3/4/5 is -20 to 60°C and -4 to 140°F. How can the values of 65°C and 60°C convert respectivally to 49°F and 140°F?

On July 19, 2013 at 10:50pm
Henry wrote:

Excellent site—much needed info, well presented.
In note 1 of Table 1, where it says “Protection circuit of lithium-ion adds about 100mW.”, did you mean to say 100mΩ?

On July 22, 2013 at 8:41am
Cadex Electronics Inc. wrote:

Yes, thank you Henry. I have made the correction.

On September 23, 2013 at 10:11pm
neha wrote:

Is there any battery/fuel cell or any other power source which does dont discharge by itself when left unused for months? It should be compact and able to supply atleast 5V of energy.

On November 14, 2013 at 3:14am
Dave wrote:

What about Nickle Iron batteries (Knife Cells) ?? 

I believe they used to be used for low internal resistance applications but were unpopular because of the Potassium Hydroxide electroyite.

On November 14, 2013 at 3:41am
neha wrote:

thanks for the info

On December 15, 2013 at 12:51am
muhammad wrote:

compare the 5 rating used in the battery rating

On December 21, 2013 at 9:43am
Bante wrote:

There used to be a type of Lithium Ion cell with a charge cutoff at 4.1V; I think the nominal voltage was 3.5V. What type of cell would this be? I have searched many sites but could not find any reference to it.

All these pages are very good indeed, but an update would be very welcome!

On December 25, 2013 at 3:01am
Not an EE wrote:

Typo in Note 1 above, which says “Protection circuit of lithium-ion adds about 100mW.” Should read 100m (omega symbol); ohms, not watts.

On March 23, 2014 at 11:49am
Mohammad Abbas wrote:

we want to make a small battery assembly unit and join them with nikel tabs together and wrap them in shrink tubing with different sorts of connectors for bimedical equipment use and communication equipment use,please advize by email your recomended spot welder for nicle tabs and some shrink tubing manufacturer as well as other battery manufacturers of bare cells of regular and lithiumion cells.in a nutshell to make custom battery packs and advize us on the machinery and equipment required.

On April 24, 2014 at 9:25am
Onceuponatimebatteryengineer wrote:

Great source of information. I am just not clear what rate capability (not specified here) is. For example, the peak load current and best result range of Lithium ion battery chemistries is vastly superior to other types. Does that mean that the rate capability of Li-ion batteries is superior? Also, within the Li-ion group, the cobalt system is different from Manganese and Phosphate. Does that mean that the phosphates are superior to cobalt system of Li-ion batteries when it comes to “Rate Capability”.

On August 12, 2014 at 6:32am
Saluti wrote:

Could you give me an comparison of Efficiency on LiNCM vs. LFP?
at different current rates:

thx vm iadvce

On November 9, 2014 at 12:35pm
Smb wrote:

I see 18650 batteries with, for example, 30amp continuous discharge and 60amp pulse discharge. My question is this: how long is a pulse then. Meaning how long Does the battery have to be aktive before going from pulse to continukus?


On March 6, 2015 at 11:07am
Greg Lander wrote:

Question: How long to re-charge a 500 kW, 2,500 kWh Li-ion (Manganese or Phoshpate) from 80% discharge to 90% charge from a 100 kW generator?

On May 20, 2015 at 10:21pm
Shivam Lal wrote:

Question: Why do Li ion batteries cost so much more than other secondary (rechargable) batteries?